In this regard, the AMA has called for both expert and front-line doctors to be included in planning for disasters with emergency managers during disasters.
The statement also considers the ethical conflicts and the dilemma that doctors face in allocating limited medical resources in a disaster zone.
Consideration for Disaster Management
“During a disaster when resources are overwhelmed, doctors will be faced with ethical challenges that do not generally occur during ordinary clinical encounters. These include rationing of scarce resources, prioritizing care to make the best use of limited resources and providing limited care rather than comprehensive treatment. This position statement serves to identify a range of those ethical challenges and highlight the major medical professional values and ethical principles that should guide doctors in their disaster response,” says AMA President Dr. Omar Khorshid.
Hence, developing protocols or ethical frameworks in support and consultation with the medical profession and the wider community is crucial.
“This kind of consultation facilitates greater professional and community understanding, and acceptance of why certain decisions are made, including those where particular individuals are offered specific treatment or resources before others. In addition to disaster medicine experts, consultation should include general practitioners and other medical specialists in primary and acute care settings in both the private and public health sectors as well as those from rural and remote areas including Indigenous communities,” says Dr. Khorshid.
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